The great escape to Brisbane

THOSE who have chosen to run from the big cities to live on the coast or in country towns have all fallen in love with their new lifestyle.

But for all the beauty of the coastline and small villages, there is still that lure to occasionally taste city life. And of all the trips we can make, the one back to Brisbane is one of the most affordable, and as I found out last weekend, one of the most enjoyable you can do.

QPAC is a magnificent theatre and my timing coincided with the launch of the hugely successful Calendar Girls. Now, I have been fortunate to have tasted the best of theatre in Sydney and London, but I really can’t remember enjoying a play as much as this one.

I found myself crying with laughter and then with emotion as I joined the likes of Amanda Muggleton, Lorraine Bailey and Jean Kittson on a wonderful ride.

The play has only a brief season in Brisbane before it goes on tour. My suggestion is get in now and see it at QPAC. It finishes on April 25.

So after a night at the theatre, a late-night dinner at the Treasury Casino was the next stop, followed by a small flutter.

I had booked our first night at the heritage-listed Royal Albert Hotel which is just a block away from the casino. This hotel is not just placed strategically across from the Myer Centre, but also offers a class and style of accommodation that you would have expected from the very best hotels of the ’60s. Far from being “out of date”, the rooms were enchanting and, most importantly, large and beautifully furnished – a perfect reflection of the character of the hotel.

Even though we were staying just across the road from the Myer Centre, my plans only allowed my wife to go shopping for two hours.

“Not enough time, darling,” I was told three times.

My limit on her shopping wasn’t just to save money – although that did cross my mind. It was about getting out to Doomben races for the Saturday race meeting.

The Brisbane Racing Club, which runs both the Eagle Farm and Doomben tracks, offers a host of corporate entertainment packages, which can be for two or as many as 50 or more.

I booked in for lunch and a window table in the Doomben 10,000 room and the choice was on the money, even if my tips weren’t.

The service was equal to a top-class restaurant, the food was great, the value was spot on and there was that race-day buzz that you can only get from being trackside.

My wife had a wonderful day out and enjoyed the colour and fashion of the event.

After setting a hectic pace, we went back to the city and booked into the Novotel on Creek Street.

A modern 4.5-star hotel the Novotel prides itself on service.

We decided on a late meal in its Cilantro Restaurant. The restaurant and bar has won a good reputation and we could see why.

With a sleep-in on Sunday, it was back up the highway. We’ll do it all again in a few months time and hopefully stick with our same itinerary.

A weekend of theatre, good food, the races and excellent accommodation is a mix that’s a winner in my books.

All I need is a hot race tip that gets home to make it extra special.


Royal Albert Hotel: Deluxe suite $160

Novotel: April rate inc. breakfast $179

QPAC Theatre: Calendar Girls $80

Races: Doomben 10,000 Club corporate three-course lunch ticket including member’s entry: $100

Cost for two people: About $700.

Rating: 9/10

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